Students who use the parking garage here at American River College are likely to run across several instances of graffiti, including one touching piece that features the word “haze” sprawled out over a plaque that commemorates the participation of taxpayers in funding the structure’s creation.
The motive for such graffiti on campus is not made clear, and it is even harder to imagine how such a display can be considered art in the first place.
If the administration is unable to keep the blight of fancy cursive and misspelled English at bay, then it is time we look to other options, including students, to clean up this problem once and for all.
Inked on drinking fountains and the television screens in the hall, graffiti has maintained a presence on campus despite administration’s efforts. It serves to reinforce the stereotype that ARC is crime-ridden. The graffiti also demeans the natural beauty that pervades throughout the area.
According to a study done by the University of Louisville, the presence of graffiti in a neighborhood can suggest that crime is present and invoke the suspicion of gangs, increasing general fear among residents and lowering their level of perceived safety.
While it would be illogical to say that the presence of this graffiti creates more violent crime, it is fair, according to the Louisville study, to say that when students see the graffiti, it gives them a bad perception of ARC.
Perception of a college is everything – it can affect the enrollment rate of new students, retention of currently attending ones and play a part in how those students participate on campus while furthering their education.
Logic would dictate that if people believe that their safety will be jeopardized at ARC, then they will not attend.
Interim Director of Administrative Services Dan McKechnie says the school is aware of the graffiti on campus, and is in a constant battle against it.
According to McKechnie, ARC has an account to pay for these removal projects, but the fund is not exclusive to graffiti.
He added that he was unsure of how much money is spent on removing graffiti in particular.
Since the outward appearance infers that the administration does not have the funds or resources to properly confront the issue, perhaps the solution should come from the student body itself.
The possibility of professors offering their students extra credit of some kind for participating in graffiti removal and restoration is always present and can be considerably effective.
The Associated Student Body Student Senate and CAEB could get involved, and allocate club points to members of the various clubs on campus for their participation in graffiti removal.
Even if incentive points and extra credit are not options, it is ultimately up to students to decide just how much pride they want to take in their campus. This conversation wouldn’t be happening if students collectively took action on the issue.
Even something as simple as students devoting one day out of every month to remove graffiti could aid the administration by giving ARC a cleaner image and the student body by giving them the pride that comes with a cleaner environment.
McKechnie says that while he doesn’t believe there are any specific laws prohibiting students from taking this initiative, it would still be considered odd for someone to attempt to paint over the graffiti themselves.
He said the problem is a campus issue, and not a student issue, adding that he would prefer using someone that he could trust to do the job.
That is admirable, but when students can’t even park their vehicles without being exposed to defaced public property, it is a student issue.
Members of the administration talk about making the campus safer through awareness programs and the like but the ultimate way to make students feel safer would be to consistently keep the elements that remind them of criminality in the first place at bay.
Regardless if administration is doing all that it can or not, the problem still faces down every student who has any sort of pride in their campus.
We get the campus we ask for, and if we’re collectively willing to acknowledge that graffiti serves no positive reinforcement, then its time we do something about it: extra credit or incentive points or not.